Limerick teacher on trial for 78 indecent assaults

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

Limerick Circuit Court
ONE of 13 men who alleges he was indecently assaulted by his teacher in a national school in the Limerick area more than 30 years ago has told a court how he would assault him “at least once, if not twice a day”.

ONE of 13 men who alleges he was indecently assaulted by his teacher in a national school in the Limerick area more than 30 years ago has told a court how he would assault him “at least once, if not twice a day”.

The alleged victim, who cannot be identified, was giving evidence in a trial yesterday, in which a 73 -year-old man has pleaded not guilty to 78 charges of indecently assaulting 13 schoolboys in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The series of assaults is alleged to have occurred over a three-period, running from September 1, 1978 to June 30, 1981.

The alleged victim, who was the first to give his testimony in the case, also told the court that his former teacher had a ‘catchphrase’ that he would use whilst indecently assaulting him.

“What’s that piece of jelly rising down there,” he would say, stated the victim, who is originally from Limerick city. He said he didn’t know if the same phrase was said to other boys in the class.

“The first thing I can remember, and the most striking, is that he would stick his hands down my pants and sexually assault me, every day, sometimes twice a day, week in week out, month after month,” he told the court. The man said while he was in that classroom he would sit “frozen at his desk” in fear, and alleged that his teacher would “molest boys at random.”

“I remember specifically my first day, or first week, there was Irish on the board and he was walking down the aisle towards me. He started by rubbing my neck, and my face, and then stuck his hand inside my pants,” he said.

“He grabbed my penis and my testicles and would grope me. I remember on the first occasion I thought it was funny. I thought he was tickling me.

“Then I began to feel humiliated, ashamed and frightened,” he said.

The alleged victim revealed that as he sat in the class he said he always hoped his teacher would approach someone else.

“The minute the classroom door opened, there was a knot in my stomach, fearing what was going to happen,” he said.

Barrister Andrew Sexton, BL, for the defence, put it to the complainant that he made his complaints to the gardai some 30 years after the alleged events.

The man responded saying this was correct, and that he came forward after he saw a headline in the Limerick Leader about an investigation surrounding a school teacher.

Under cross-examination about the dates of the alleged offences, he said: “I’m very nervous. I don’t remember the dates, but I do remember what happened in that class. What happened to me happened. I sat there squirming as that creep walked around the class,” he retorted.

Mr Sexton said that if these offences happened as many times as he claimed, someone must have seen it. “There’s no one who saw you being abused at all,” said the defence.

“These allegations are completely deniable. My client says nothing of the sort you allege happened.”

The trial continues today.

- See the broadsheet editions of the Limerick Leader for more coverage of this trial